Today, Friday (1 February), the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement enters into force, creating a common economic space and area of shared values for over 600 million people.
It is the biggest free trade agreement in the history of the European Union: the agreement with Japan entering into force today creates a common economic space accounting for more than a quarter of global GDP, with a population of over 600 million.
This agreement with Japan, a partner that shares our values, shows how the removal of trade barriers can go hand in hand with high sustainability standards. Japan and the EU assure each other that they will observe International Labour Organization safety standards. On the basis of strong safeguards, data transfer, digital trade and the exchange of services will also become much easier.
As well as ensuring far reaching improvements for the economy and for consumers, the agreement also strengthens rules based, fair and free trade as a whole.
Freedom for goods and services, more commitment to climate protection
Not only does the agreement facilitate the exchange of goods, services and investment between Japan and the EU, it also includes rules on fair competition, the protection of intellectual property, labour standards and environmental protection. It is the first free trade agreement in which the parties give a mutual pledge to implement the provisions of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Equal standards simplify trade and protect consumers
Non tariff barriers to trade have also been successfully addressed. In the past, differing technical requirements and standards made some EU exports up to 30% dearer.
The EU and Japan have now agreed to recognise international norms and standards in a large number of areas, and have agreed mechanisms to avoid such barriers to trade in the future. As a result, it will become much simpler to export things like motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Both sides retain the right, however, to implement regulations.
The agreement is the result of almost five years of intense negotiations between the EU and Japan. The European Parliament ratified it by a large majority in December 2018.